Asia's soccer chief is calling for the region's system of training and appointing referees to be overhauled in a bid to boost the standard of match officials.
Declaring 2009 "AFC Asian Referees Year", President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Mohamed Bin Hamman proposed a revamp to prevent bias in the choice of officials and to ensure only the best referees take control of important matches.
"What happened in the past was that some people, and I'm not saying everyone, but some would say 'I prefer him or I don't prefer him' and the appointments of referees would not always be the best choices," Bin Hamman told the AFC's website.
"Also, for the most important matches, clubs and national teams spend a lot of money on hiring the best coaches and organising training camps to prepare as best as they can.
"So, it is our responsibility to make sure that we give them the best referees. The best people should be in charge of the best matches."
Bin Hammam said poor refereeing at the 2004 Asian Cup in China prompted him to create the Elite referees panel, which features the top FIFA-accredited referees who would be available for the big matches in Asia.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily September 19, 2008)